French cuisine may be easy to come by in South Kensington’s French quarter but in nearby Chelsea, new Gallic restaurant Brasserie Gustave is a welcome addition to a quiet dining area, says Alex Larman
For some strange reason, Sydney Street – undeniably one of Chelsea’s more salubrious locations – has always been a bit of a restaurant dead spot. Situated as it is between the dual attractions of the King’s and Fulham Roads, it arguably has lacked the talking-point venue that would not only drive custom there in its own right, but help it spill over to neighbouring establishments. Now, with some fanfare, the latest of the city’s French bistros has stepped into the breach. Will Brasserie Gustave be the place to change the street’s fortunes?
The honest answer is no, although this isn’t a reflection on the quality or lack of it at Gustave. It’s because the aims that the restaurant sets out are simple, unpretentious ones: namely to recreate the style, feel and cuisine of a quality French establishment at relatively kind prices for the area, and with a sensational Gallic wine list overseen by former sommelier and maitre’d Richard Weiss. The latter will be, for many, the best reason to come. Sampling first a glass of an excellent white Cotes du Rhone, followed with a Weiss-suggested bottle of Minervois, proved a good plan; both were superb and complemented the food well.
And what of the cuisine? Under head chef Laurence Glayzer, the dishes cleave closely to those expected from a typical neighbourhood brasserie; a shared starter of deshelled snails was appetising without being revelatory, as was a chateaubriand – decent enough value at £56 for two but without the wow factor of a similar (if more expensive) steak at the new Hawksmoor nearby. Nonetheless, the accoutrements – chips, béarnaise sauce, spinach etc – are all present, and a shared plate of cheese was of a high calibre.
Gustave isn’t the game-changer that the area needs, but nor is it trying to be. With decent, straightforward cooking, a superb wine list and the great Monsieur Weiss dans la maison, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Brasserie Gustave, 4 Sydney Street, Chelsea; SW3 6PP; 020 7352 1712; brasserie-gustave.com